Monday, February 9, 2009

Pump your Heart Full of Nutrition!

As we all know February is Heart Healthy month and of course Valentines Day! It is also an opportunity for you to support the Heart and Stroke Foundation. In honour of my boyfriend and his challenge to support the Heart and Stroke Foundation, I am hosting a special "Heart Healthy Cooking Class" on Thursday February 19th. If you are interested please email me for details! (This class will also offer you a tax deductible receipt from the Heart and Stroke Foundation.)

Because of the importance of this month it is especially important for you to learn about which foods and nutrients are supportive to your heart and your overall health! You can even have a little fun with your food and make Valentine's a little extra special this year. You don't even need to go out to a fancy restaurant for dinner. Maybe this year you want to opt to stay home and make your honey a sexy, balanced and heart healthy V-Day dinner!

Here are some tips of which foods will provide your heart with maximum nutrition and aren't bad for your sex drive either! These foods are all from whole sources! A diet rich in these foods will promote and overall state of optimal health and well being!

Salmon or other Fresh White fish

Omega-3 fatty acids.

Grill, steam or bake fish with a yummy rub, marinade or fresh herbs and lemon juice. Save a chunk to chop for a pasta or salad later on.

Flaxseed (ground)

Omega-3 fatty acids; fiber, phytoestrogens.

Ground flaxseed hides easily in all sorts of foods -- yogurt parfaits, morning cereal, homemade muffins, or cookies.


Omega-3 fatty acids; magnesium; potassium; folate; niacin; calcium; soluble fiber.

Top hot oatmeal with fresh berries. Oatmeal-and-raisin cookies are a hearty treat.

Black or Kidney Beans

B-complex vitamins; niacin; folate; magnesium; omega-3 fatty acids; calcium; soluble fiber.

Give soup or salad a nutrient boost -- stir in some beans.


Calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorous, vitamin A, B complex and C

Shred raw into salad, or steam and cut into slices (or hearts!)

Pumpkin Seeds

Protein, omega 3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, phosphorus, vitamin A, calcium, b vitamins

Eat them raw in trail mixes, salads and granola or toast them lightly for a fragrant extra boost of flavour!


Plant omega-3 fatty acids; vitamin E; magnesium; fiber; heart-favorable mono- and polyunsaturated fats; phytosterols.

Mix a few raw organic almonds (and berries) into sheep's milk yogurt, trail mix, or fruit salads.


Plant omega-3 fatty acids; vitamin E; magnesium; folate; fiber; heart-favorable mono- and polyunsaturated fats; phytosterols.

Walnuts add flavorful crunch to salads, pastas, cookies, muffins, even pancakes

Red wine

Catechins and reservatrol (flavonoids).

Toast your good health! A glass of red wine could improve "good" HDL cholesterol.

Tofu and Tempeh

Niacin; folate; calcium; magnesium; potassium.

These soy options are easy to use and taste delicious in any recipe: Thinly slice "firm" tofu, or tempeh and marinate for several hours and bake, grill or stir-fry.

Brown rice or Quinoa

B-complex vitamins; fiber; niacin; magnesium, fiber.

Organic varieties are wonderful! Cook up a pot and make pilafs, soups or top it with a colourful vegetable stir fry!

Soy milk

Isoflavones (a flavonoid); B-complex vitamins; niacin; folate, calcium; magnesium; potassium; phytoestrogens.

Make sure it is Organic! But soy milk is great over oatmeal or whole-grain cereal. Or, make a smoothie with soy milk.


Beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids); anthocyanin (a flavonoid); ellagic acid (a polyphenol); vitamin C; folate; calcium, magnesium; potassium; fiber.

Cranberries, strawberries, raspberries are potent, too -- for trail mixes, muffins, salads!


Alpha-carotene (a carotenoid); fiber.

Cut up into snack sized pieces for a great snack. Use in recipes such as stir fries, salads and soups or sneak shredded carrots into spaghetti sauce or muffin batter.


Lutein (a carotenoid); B-complex vitamins; folate; magnesium; potassium; calcium; fiber.

Pick spinach (not lettuce) for nutrient-packed salads and sandwiches. Tastes great when steamed and added to cooked dishes!


Beta-carotene (a carotenoid); Vitamins C and E; potassium; folate; calcium; fiber.

Chop fresh broccoli into store-bought soup. For a veggie dip, try hummus (chickpeas).

Sweet potatoor butternut Squash

Beta-carotene (a carotenoid); vitamins A, C, E; fiber.

Steam in steamer basket, bake or roast in oven or boil in a pot of soup!

Red bell peppers

Beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids); B-complex vitamins; folate; potassium; fiber.

Rub with olive oil, and grill or oven-roast until tender. Delicious in wraps, salads, sandwiches.


Beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids); B-complex vitamins; folate; fiber.

Grill or steam slightly, then dress with olive oil and lemon. It's a pretty side dish.


Beta-cryptoxanthin, beta- and alpha-carotene, lutein (carotenoids) and flavones (flavonoids); vitamin C; potassium; folate; fiber.

Make your own orange juice with freshly squeezed organic oranges. Use the zest in marinades chutneys and salad dressing. You can even use it in baking!


Beta- and alpha-carotene, lycopene, lutein (carotenoids); vitamin C; potassium; folate; fiber.

For a flavor twist, try oil-packed tomatoes in sandwiches, salads, pastas, pizzas.

Acorn squash

Beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids); B-complex and C vitamins; folate; calcium; magnesium; potassium; fiber.

Baked squash is comfort food on a chilly day. Serve with sautéed spinach, pine nuts, raisins.


Alpha- and beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids); B-complex and C vitamins; folate; potassium; fiber.

A fragrant ripe cantaloupe is perfect for breakfast, lunch, potluck dinners. Simply cut and enjoy!


Beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein (carotenoids); Vitamins C and E; folate; calcium; magnesium; potassium.

Serve papaya salsa with salmon: Mix papaya, pineapple, scallions, garlic, fresh lime juice, salt and black pepper.

Dark chocolate

Reservatrol and cocoa phenols (flavonoids).

A square of dark cocoa is great for blood pressure, but choose 70% or higher cocoa content.


Catechins and flavonols (flavonoids).

Make sun tea: Combine a clear glass jar, several tea bags, and hours of sunshine.

Source: various resources including Webmd, Phyllis A. Balch and Rebecca Wood's Whole Foods Encyclopedia

Heart-Beet Salad with Sweet Pumpkin Seeds

4 whole meyer lemons
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

1 pound or bunch of wild arugula
1 beet, steamed and peeled and chilled, shaved on the mandolin or cut into heart shape slices
1 pear, cut into shavings with a peeler
½ cup candied pumpkin seeds
½ cup dried black mission figs, sliced

*candied pumpkin seeds
2 cups pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon ground ginger
¼ cup maple syrup
½ teaspoon fine sea salt

Mix all the ingredients together, place on a baking tray and lightly roast at 200F for 10-15 minutes.


1. With a sharp paring knife, cut away the ends and the outer peel of the lemons along with the seeds, leaving some of the white pith. Cut the lemons in halves or quarters and add to blender with honey. Blend on high speed for about a minute to break up.
2. With the blender running on medium speed, slowly pour in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. In a large mixing bowl, gently toss the green and pear with enough dressing to generously coat. Divide among serving plates and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and dried figs.

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